By Dawson Bell
Medical marijuana aimed at helping Michiganders with their pain turns out to be a helpful prescription for the state's challenged budget, as well.
In its first two years of operation, state licensing of marijuana patients and their caregivers has turned more than an $8-million profit -- generating nearly $9.7 million in revenue against $1.5 million in expenses, according to a new state report.
Marijuana fees topped $4.8 million between just Oct. 1, 2010, and March 31. And the growth continues at a rapid pace, said program manager Rae Ramsdell.
More than 100,000 Michiganders are registered to use and provide medical marijuana, Ramsdell said, far exceeding projections made after state voters overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana in 2008.
But Ramsdell said costs are growing, too. The office she supervises was initially staffed by three people and now has 17, she said.
Still, delays of four months or more in processing applications remain common.
Marijuana patient advocates contend that the licensing fees (currently set at $100 a year) were supposed to be set only high enough to run the program.
An Oakland County marijuana patient, who asked that his last name not be used for fear of being targeted by police, said the state's profit at the expense of legal marijuana users was predictable.
"They should have known this would happen," he said. "I know they're trying to keep up, but they need to get rid of the backlog."
- Article originally from Detroit Free Press